’Life on the bubble’
A team of researchers, led by an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis, has applied a molecular approach to identify the biological particles in aerosol responsible for making employees of a Colorado hospital therapeutic pool ill. They found: when the bubble bursts, the bacteria disperse, and lifeguards get pneumonia-like symptoms.
Lars Angenent, Ph.D., Washington University assistant professor of chemical engineering, and collaborators from San Diego State University and the University of Colorado, took what is known as a molecular survey of a common gene found in all life forms, 16 S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene, by cloning the different forms, sequencing them, and making evolutionary-distance trees, or phylogenetic trees. They then were able to match the genetic sequence of the bacterium Mycobacterium avium to the same bacterium found in the lungs of nine lifeguards who had become ill with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a lung condition that mimics pneumonia symptoms.
Tony Fitzpatrick | EurekAlert!
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